NIUSIA created by Beth Paterson Directed by Kathryn Yates

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review by Meredith Fuller OAM
The La Mama ‘Explorations’ in JULY provided an opportunity for initial development (with further iterations coming for festivals etc). Watch out for future performances – the material is riveting.

Beth Paterson has created a most entertaining, clever, educative, hilarious, and unique piece of theatre.

A one-woman show is a huge undertaking, especially from a such young actor/writer. She delivered a tour de force. She also sings with purity and her voice reverberated around the theatre and into our viscera.

She has the voice of an angel, I would love to have more songs in this production. Perhaps a song for each character she introduces?

This is about a grandmother, mother, and granddaughter – a universal theme so deeply personal.

“I saw Nana Niusia every week until her death when I was 15…around her beige breakfast table…Most of what you see tonight are second hand memories; warped by time and perspective and the language of another person, which are then transposed again into my voice or my imagining of Nana’s voice…Representations of recollections that aren’t mine.”

Beth invites us to explore her relationships with family and the horror of war history. She uses the lens of her childhood memories of hatred, food, clothes, and culture to depict the female archetypes.
In the depictions we see how:
The grandmother moves and makes things happen by swallowing feeling,
the mother listens and holds the emotion in order to heal them,
and the daughter expresses the feeling through her voice.

A story about Dame Edna Everidge has the audience howling with laughter. Every story is intriguing on so many levels. Humour is inserted throughout her tales of survival and pungent emotion. We learn about other cultures, and remember our suburbs in Australia as each woman’s life journey is revealed. A psychological thriller indeed.

The idea behind this triptych is brilliant, and it is obvious how much work has gone into the creation. The adroit trick of layering tragedy with humour, grief with delight, and impermanence with permanence is a tribute to her wisdom, curiosity, and earnest effort.
This is ground-breaking, needed, clever, entertaining, and satisfying theatre.

The director, Kathryn Yates has choreographed a spiral like a fibonacci sequence. Multi-media is employed in a fresh and engaging manner. Exquisite work between the actor and director; an impressive collaboration. I hope they continue creating this type of entertaining theatre with purpose.

Symbolism is evident in the set, clothes, lighting effects, and colour. Wonderful work from costume and set designer Samantha Hastings, sound by Justin Gardam, and lighting by Sidney Younger.

The play runs for 75 minutes and I am keen to have more singing! Perhaps a tweak of the physical timing taken to inhabit and leave each character? Or possibly edit some of the ‘I’m lost, I don’t understand’ dialogue of the granddaughter – a little superfluous because her face and body says it all beautifully.

Director Kathryn Yates
NIUSIA created & performed by Beth Paterson

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